School’s out for summer! Schooooool’s out for EVER! (Actually, it’s just out for eight weeks, but since I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s, Alice Cooper has greatly impacted how I say that first sentence.)
Oh Gentle Reader, I can’t even explain to you how ready I am for this summer break. No more pre-algebra, no more science labs, so more feeling like I’m not getting everything done. It’s a chance to unwind, relax, and read a million bajillion books.
Or, maybe just forty.
Yes, my goal for the summer (besides keeping the children physically and emotionally stable) is to read forty books. But because it’s summer these books are going to be just for fun, they will serve no higher purpose than to entertain my summer loving self. So some days they will be juicy adult novels and other days they will be helpful books on gardening and other days they will be gritty and raw YA books and other days they will be adorable picture books. Because just like food, I like a varied diet in my reading.
This book a day challenge was started by one of my heroes in reading: Donalyn Miller. She is exactly who I am trying to be as I grow up, except for a few minor differences (such as she is a public school teacher and I am a homeschooling teacher, so she influences the reading lives of hundreds and hundreds of students and I influence the reading lives of three. Whatever. Potato, Po-tah-to.)
The idea behind the book a day challenge is to read for fun during the summer and share those books you enjoyed so that others will be encouraged to read for fun as well. I love reading for fun and I love blogging about what I’ve been reading, so this challenge is rather perfect for me.
Here are some of the books that I’ve been reading lately.
The Throne of Glass series (Sarah J. Maas) This is a high fantasy Young Adult series that features a kick-butt assassin/heroine who happens to love fashion and dancing (think Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but more archaic.) These books hit all the right notes for me: classic world-building, solid writing, strong and dynamic characters, secret passageways, nice undercurrents of sexual tension, and outlawed, mystical magic. Even the obligatory and wretched YA love triangle was handled skillfully.
My advice to you is to read the first book in the series, Throne of Glass, first, then read the prequel book of four short stories, The Assassin’s Blade, second. Then you can read Crown of Midnight and Heir of Fire, after which you can then wait miserably with the rest of us as we mark the passing days until Queen of Shadows is released (only 82 more days!)
The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place (Julie Berry) This YA/middle grade book was highly recommended to me by a GoodReads friend, but when I started it, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. However, as the chapters progressed I enjoyed the juxtaposition between comedy and morbid gruesomeness more and more.
The plot revolves around a group of Victorian schoolgirls who attempt to hide the death of their dour schoolmistress and live in adult-less splendor. However things quickly go awry, as they always do. Frankly, it’s like a Dicken’s version of Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead. Are you intrigued yet? You should be.
The Third Wife (Lisa Jewell) I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this adult novel filled with suspense and intrigue about modern family relationships. Did Adrian’s third wife suffer a tragic accident? Or was it suicide? What role did Adrian’s former two wives and his children play, if any?
The characters are beautifully flawed (and therefore entirely realistic and fully formed.) Ms. Jewell’s writing is pleasingly complex and the novel’s structure between the present and the past made it almost impossible for me to predict exactly who did what and when. And don’t you just love a good who-dun-it story when you can’t figure out the ending? I know I do. Overall, this is a great summer read.
Read Between the Lines (Jo Knowles) This grim, yet ultimately optimistic YA novel is the best thing I’ve read in months. Told in a series of short (but emotionally detailed) stories set at a local high school, Jo Knowles creates a gorgeous web of cause and effect.
This book made me think (and think and think) about how each of us impacts the lives of the people around us for good and for evil.
This book is gritty and realistic, so if you don’t enjoy reading situations (and four letter words) of this nature, this is not the summer read for you. But I absolutely adored it.
Rules of Summer (Shaun Tan) This picture book is not geared toward children. Not really. It truly takes an older person to appreciate the emotional and stark, industrial nature of the illustrations in this book.
Let me state honestly and unequivocally that I do not understand this book in the slightest. I really don’t. It seems to be some dark fantasy created by a younger boy describing the lessons he learnt over the summer with his older brother. However, there are poignant snippets of text that touch me on a Where the Wild Things Are-level: “Never wait for an apology” or “Always know the way home.”
It’s disturbing and confusing and lovely and weird all at the same time. So for that reason I am recommending it.
So there you are, Gentle Reader, some of the best books I’ve read lately. What books do you plan on reading this summer? Share below.